Tag Archives: belief systems

Thinking Clearly

I turn off the tap and sweep the water from my body using my hands. I saw an ex-boyfriend doing this and I continue to do it long after we’ve broken up. I step out of the shower and start to think of all the other habits I’ve caught from former boyfriends and even old friends. How I no longer close my bedroom curtains at night. How I add paprika to my scrambled eggs. And how I know that a glass of milk with dates (the dried fruit, not a rendezvous with a potential love buddy) is a surprisingly delicious combination.

I’ve held on to these things because they make sense to me. Because I’d rather not have puddles on my bathroom floor. And because I love to look out at the stars and wake to the morning light. But what about the habits and beliefs I’ve latched on to that definitely aren’t serving me? The ones I thought were a part of me but that actually came from other people. From parents, partners, teachers and friends.

Are the beliefs that are running our lives really ours? The ones that instruct us on how to look, feel and behave, and on what to do, say and even like. Are these second-hand belief systems right for us at all?

It’s time for a spring clean. A thorough clear out. Pick up and inspect each belief. If it makes you feel good, keep it. You can reexamine it in another while. If it makes you feel bad, chuck it. It was never yours anyway. Once you’ve decluttered your headspace, make sure to only decorate it with things that are authentic and functional. Things that make you smile. Living with yourself will be a lot more pleasant once you’ve feng shui’d your mind.

Made to Feel This Way

Last night, I hardly slept. At 3 am, I resigned myself to my sleepless fate, put on the kettle, and read the guts of Lullabies for Little Criminals. As I turned page after page, I thought defiantly: Who said I had to sleep at this hour anyway? I don’t have to be tired in the morning. I could stay in bed until midday.

By nine am, I was awoken by the sound of the car park coming to life. I shoved earplugs into my ears and waited to be sucked into a silent slumber. It didn’t happen. The challenging inner voice piped up: Who said I needed eight hours sleep in order to function? And I can go for a nap later, if needed. 

I logged onto the laptop to peruse the papers online and I came across this article in The Guardian. Interestingly, it was all about sleep and how most of us don’t really understand it. The author questioned if we really need a solid eight-hour block of slumber. He suggested we sleep in stints, like we apparently used to do in the good ol’ days. I closed the laptop in satisfaction. Just because I’d only had a couple hours’ sleep, didn’t mean I should choose to be exhausted for the day.

All this made me wonder what other things I was feeling just because some unquestioned “fact” told me I should. When I felt ugly or beautiful, was it really me or the media and fashion industry’s guidelines I’d gullibly swallowed? When I felt worthwhile or useless, whose opinion was taking precedence over my own?

Who had decided the “right” way for us to look, to work, to live our lives, and to conduct our relationships? And what constituted “success” in this society? A house, a family, and a pensionable career? What about the other, intangible, aspects of life? Fun? Connection? Peace of mind?

I walked by the river and smiled at strangers, then sauntered into a café and ordered an espresso, even though all the “healthy” people tell me that coffee is hard on the stomach, introduces too much heat into the body, and that the caffeine high swiftly switches to a sorry slump. “You’d do better with a herbal tea,” they’d advise, smiling their white smiles.

I took a few gulps as I jotted down my thoughts. My stomach’s fine. I’m not too hot. And I’m simply not tired. Okay, I had to admit that it was a little hard on the stomach. I suppose there’s a difference between doing things because I want to and doing things to prove the point that I refuse to be told what to do. That, in its own pathetic way, was another manner of being controlled – by my ego. If I’d listened to my body, I would have ordered a tea. A black one, mind you, with caffeine and tannins. There I go again…

I realise that it takes a while to banish old belief systems and strip away the ego before you can even catch a glimpse of the perfection of your unshakeable core. Paradoxically, the key is not to even try. Just be the witness. And enjoy the show.

I actually am quite tired. Damn.